Kenilworth revamp to boost Cape racing

Kenilworth revamp to boost Cape racing

CTS News

KENILWORTH Racing’s expansive strategy to revamp Cape Town horseracing and generate a sustainable income from land not required for horseracing purposes is progressing steadily.

Kenilworth Racing took over the reins of Western Cape horseracing on 1 August 2013 after the demerger between Gold Circle and Western Cape Racing was officially confirmed. The company subsequently appointed JSE-listed Phumelela Gaming to manage the day-to-day running of the business on its behalf.

Kenilworth Racing owns Kenilworth and Durbanville racecourses and the Milnerton and Philippi training facilities, and at the time of the demerger Western Cape Racing Association members were warned that it was likely that both Durbanville and Milnerton would have to be sold to keep Cape Town horseracing afloat.

But the Kenilworth Racing board and its management team constantly seek opportunities to sustain the business into the future and in August 2014 unveiled a property development plan, which would enable all four properties to be retained and simultaneously generate revenue by better utilisation of land surplus to racing’s needs.

The plan included upgrading Milnerton to a state-of-the-art training facility with a central high-rise commercial and residential development offering sea and mountain views.

Kenilworth Racecourse was to be transformed into a multi-purpose destination with various commercial elements including restaurants, bars, a boutique hotel and shops. If financially feasible, Kenilworth Racing would rent out the commercial elements, while protecting the horseracing section of its flagship racecourse in perpetuity.

Consideration was to be given to upgrading Philippi, while the Durbanville grass track was to be totally refurbished with the aim of ensuring fairer racing and resultant bigger fields and betting turnovers. Other elements of the Durbanville redevelopment included unrestricted ownership of the property and in conjunction with local government, the creation of an enviro-park, modelled on the success of Green Point, with jogging and walking trails.

Collectively, the elements of the property plan allowed for the unlocking of residential and commercial assets, which would provide “annuity income” for Kenilworth Racing as the landowner and ultimately benefit thoroughbred horseracing in the region.

Much has happened in the three years since the plan was unveiled with Western Cape Racing Association members and stakeholders receiving status updates at various stages.

The Durbanville turf track has been rebuilt. Undulations have been levelled and in consultation with trainers and jockeys the home straight has been lengthened and widened. Cross-falls on the turn and in the straight have been built that should reduce the draw bias. Other enhancements include subsurface drainage and a fixed irrigation system with the new surface on schedule to be used for the first time in September.

Rezoning of the perimeter of the racecourse is being investigated with the intention of developing commercial, residential and retail opportunities for the benefit of horseracing.

In terms of the Milnerton training facility, a project to upgrade all training surfaces is ongoing and the conversion of the cinder track into a complete oval is scheduled for completion at the end of this month. Trainers have been consulted and their requests taken into account where possible.

The relocation of sensitive plants away from the cinder track is being undertaken in consultation with the Environmental Branch of the City of Cape Town and in accordance with the rules of an environmental management plan.

Kenilworth Racing is also undertaking a stable audit to ensure there are sufficient stables for the needs of Cape Town horseracing.

The City of Cape Town last December approved the rezoning of the central portion of the training centre and the viability of the proposed central high-rise commercial and residential development is now being investigated.

The rezoning of Kenilworth was approved by the City of Cape Town in April and allows for 75, 000 square metres to be developed on condition that horseracing activities are enhanced and that any development provides a sustainable income to Kenilworth Racing.

Rezoning requirements as per current legislation have been strictly adhered to and the intention is to redevelop the buildings on the perimeter of the property along Rosmead Avenue. The rezoning approval does not include any area in the infield.

Kenilworth Racing is a custodian of the environmental conservation area in the centre of the racetrack and funds and supports conservation projects in this infield area, including providing office space to their personnel. Strict environmental controls are in place for this sensitive area, especially on major race days when part of the infield is used.

Kenilworth Racing is fully aware that it is the custodian of three of the most sensitive conservation areas in the Cape and a core element of its property strategy is to conserve the conservation parks at its Milnerton, Kenilworth and Durbanville properties.

The company continues to engage with the City of Cape Town to ensure that all measures are taken to preserve these conservation areas for the benefit of future generations.

NOTE: Kenilworth Racing (Pty) Ltd is owned by The Thoroughbred Horseracing Trust, which was established to protect the sport of horseracing. The Trust’s principal objectives are to maintain the ethos and ensure the survival of horseracing, as well as driving transformation in the sport. The Racing Association appoints five of the seven trustees to the Trust and SASCOC the other two.

The Western Cape chapter of the Racing Association can nominate directors to the Kenilworth Racing board and the Trust does what is reasonably in its power to ensure that one third of Kenilworth Racing directors come from these nominations. – TAB News.